Episode- 75 Power Rangers VS Voltron
Season 4 was an incredibly important year for Death Battle, possibly rivaling the importance of Season 3’s massive production restructuring. For one thing, this was the year we moved to Rooster Teeth’s headquarters… though I’ll get to the challenges and opportunities that presented when I cover the summer episodes. The other change was that Craig had officially moved on from ScrewAttack, leaving the company in the hands of Sean Hinz and Chad James. While ScrewAttack may have looked just the same as always on the surface, things were very different behind the scenes. In a very good way!
ScrewAttack had been stretched a bit too far across its small staff, so in 2017, Death Battle became a much greater initiative for ScrewAttack, with further staff and support put behind related shows DBX and Desk of Death Battle along with a new Death Battle podcast. For the cherry on top, Death Battle got a long overdue new look!
The original look for Death Battle was very much inspired by Mortal Kombat and… yeah, that’s about it. Oh, also the slamming metal doors from a classic UK show called Robot Wars which I’d watched as a kid in the mid-90’s, but I didn’t even realize I was subconsciously drawing from that until years later. As far as the themes went though, Death Battle was originally produced with video game audiences in mind, as ScrewAttack was primarily a gaming website back in 2010. Since then, the audience had grown, and attention had shifted. It’s no secret that our most viewed episodes are typically those with comic book or shonen anime characters. It was past time to change Death Battle’s look to reflect that, while still keeping a little of the good ol’ fashioned look.
Can I take a moment to just gush about how incredible the graphics artists are at Rooster Teeth? I absolutely adore the new logo and assets for Death Battle’s fourth season. When that aired for Lara Croft VS Nathan Drake, it really felt like a whole new Death Battle had hit the scene. For me, Season 3 had been exactly that; a complete rebirth of the show. Season 3 had plenty of growing pains, but I think we wound up with a show that’s far superior to what it was before.
And this hit me smack in the face with Power Rangers VS Voltron. Like… a good smack.
This is without a doubt one of the most ambitious animations we’d ever done. Five lions, five dinozords, 10 characters, 2 giant robots, tons of weapons… almost all of which had to be custom made from scratch! Not to mention 10 voice actors for each unique character, and a script with enough going on to give each character a moment to shine and two whole transformation scenes! Listen, if you don’t know squat about animation, that probably doesn’t mean much to you. How hard could animating all this be, right?
Just so you know, it was hard as balls.
This is an episode we’d been trying to get a foothold on for years. I was already working on a potential battle script as far back as 2012, before we even tried 3D animation in the first place! Back then, I figured the available budget would never allow for 3D animation. Without the growth that was being denied, I figured Power Rangers VS Voltron would have to be 2D and started looking for someone to make custom sprite work for it. That didn’t end up working out, but I think that’s for the best. It was worth the wait!
There are a lot of standout moments I remember from working on this one. Nick was the writer and project lead for this episode, and he’d never watched Power Rangers before. About halfway through the research weeks, there was a memorable moment at lunch when Nick started lamenting at how he was really bummed that he hadn’t watched it as a kid!
Some of the models used in the animation, including the Megazord itself, were built by Reid Fagerquist. Because she was building it from scratch, Chad actually brought in an old Megazord toy he still had from his childhood to be used as a reference model!
As a kid, I always wondered what each of the Power Rangers did while they were in the Megazord cockpit. Only Jason held a control stick, but the other Rangers were busy looking at screens or… something. Right? Even though it really didn’t matter in regards to the fight itself, I made it part of my mission during our research to discover what each one of them was actually doing when the zords all came together. I paid attention to every piece of throw away dialogue and specific conversations held in the cockpit, like how Zack was usually the one who checked the status of their weapons, or how Kimberly was the one who would establish contact with Zordon and Alpha 5. You can see all the roles listed on each character’s info slate in the episode! That was fun to figure out.
Even back in 2012, I’d always imagined the Rangers and Voltron pilots would be voiced by fellow YouTube stars I’d met over the years. When it finally came time to make that happen, our casting director Marissa totally agreed. Matthew Patrick, Austin Hargrave, Amanda Lee, Jeff Fabre, Andre Meadows, Melonie Mac, Scott Frerichs, Nick Landis, Morgan Berry, and Alejandro Saab all lent their voices to this crazy thing, and I’m so thankful they were all so on board with it despite how busy the script was, how most of them would record remotely, and they all had incredibly busy schedules. And for the icing on the cake, musician Brandon Yates returned to create an awesome original soundtrack for the battle. In the end, it all came together beautifully!
I’m immensely proud of everyone who worked so hard for so long to put this amazing episode together!
-Ben B. Singer
P.S. What did you think of the new Death Battle logo and re-branding when it first showed up? What do you think of it now?